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Click-spam, Ad Networks


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Fighting back against click-spam

Linear SystemUniversity of Texas at Austin researchers recently presented their paper, "Measuring and Fingerprinting Click-Spam in Ad Networks," at the SIGCOMM 2012 conference. The paper aimed to quantify the traffic on an ad network. "To our surprise, we found this was extremely challenging, and, aside from a scattered few anecdotes, there was no well-known, systematic technique, so we decided to come up with one," says University of Texas at Austin's Saikat Guha. The researchers developed a technique that provides the first independent methodology for advertisers to measure the click-spam problem, and supports an automated method for ad networks to identify simultaneous click-spam attacks proactively. "For a reputed ad network, only one out of 20 people clicking our ad stayed for longer than five seconds," Guha says. "We suspect this is because people misclicked the ad due to the small mobile-screen sizes and quickly hit the back button." The researchers also conducted a large-scale measurement study of click-spam across 10 major ad networks and four types of ads. "We believe this will spur intense research, much as in the early 2000s in the context of email spam, that will ultimately result in the broader community figuring out how to deal with click-fraud," Guha says.

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Vacha Dave (Microsoft Research India)
Yin Zhang (The University of Texas at Austin)
Saikat Guha (The University of Texas at Austin)


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